It’s truly amazing that, in a year filled with so many triumphant comeback moments and ‘hotly anticipated’ singles, Girls Aloud can come along in the final few months of the year, snatch a series of wigs that represent each of your faves pop careers, and then proceed to intensively mop the floor with them. Of the four new tracks on “Ten”, the latest Greatest Hits collection from Girls Aloud, none is perhaps as precious as the four-minute-plus epic Eurodance romp “Every Now and Then.” Driving the five-piece straight into classic Xenomania territory with one of their most forward-thinking productions since The Saturdays’ “All Fired Up” (and, naturally so, the exceptionally better of the two). Of course, it’s not just the stunning levels of production that clench this as a hallmark Aloud moment.
Not since “Call The Shots” have Girls Aloud really nailed this kind of song; deep, soul-wrenching heartbreak with both feet firmly placed onto the dance floor. “Untouchable” was certainly close, but of the former two mentioned singles I’d even go as far as saying that “Every Now and Then” is the stronger and better track. This sublime, bittersweet song of the heart deals with a subject we’d all be familiar with and ensures the listener embarks on a rollercoaster of emotions upon its first listen. There’s also the matter of a whopping key-change that comes into play just as you think you’ve got the song figured out, just as you think you’ve nailed how the chorus sounds. Within its first minute the track shifts into overdrive, wallops itself into a higher key, before serving the lessors with the actual chorus, which is a million times better and more satisfying than you could have ever imagined. Little inflictions, like when Nadine croakily sings “I knew it from the start” – and sounds like she’s on the verge of a mini-meltdown – to Cheryl’s gut-wrenchingly telling line “I gave you everything, I even wore your ring”, there’s very little in this complete masterpiece of a pop song that doesn’t leave me for dead, slayed beyond conceivable existence.
That’s what I’ve really, really missed about Girls Aloud. Not just the little things they bring to the proverbial table that make them the greatest pop group since ABBA, but that undeniable ability to rip you apart into a million pieces with 4 minutes of song but still remind you that, no matter how heartbreaking the situation is, you’re going to come out on top. Girls Aloud have always sung about matters from the heart but there’s been this strong, near-feminist approach to a lot of their lyrics (for the most part) over the years. “Never ever going back,” they sing in the chorus to ‘Every Now & Then’, “I said I never would again, It’s better now that we’re apart, but I still think about you every now and then.” There’s this acknowledged melancholy in not only the lyric but the way it’s sung, but not before a statement of their strength and survival is thrown in for empowerment. The chorus, lyrically, reminds me slightly of Cher’s “Strong Enough” which, thematically, follows a very similar pattern; the tears have stopped, I know I am a better person without you but I can’t help thinking about you every now and then. It’s nice we’ve still got some girls in charge who are still hell-bent on putting the boys in their place, as opposed to the current trend where a large portion of our female pop stars are poppin’ puss ‘in da club’ and whailing about guys going down on them or, even worse, singing about how their relationship with a person who beat, kicked and bit the living shit out of them is “Nobody’s Business.” No, not Girls Aloud. Because that would not only label them as hypocrites, it would also reverse the power of their name and serve as an undoing to all of the hard work they’ve constructed over the last 10 years. Girls Aloud are more than just a girl group, they’re a Girl Force.
I discovered Girls Aloud properly in 2005 through Popjustice, also one of my discoveries that year. The year was a rough one for me personally and saw me in hospital for major life-saving surgery on my lung. After the operation I was housebound for 6 months; unable to walk for 3, unable to work for 4 and unable to drive a car for the full 6 month duration. I was stuck in a house where my only solace was the world wide web. After years of straying from my pop roots (I was working as a dance music journalist for a number of years before grounding myself where I belonged; in the pop world) I started to really investigate what I’d missed over the last two years, and one of those were the mighty Aloud. The music of Girls Aloud got me through the troubles I faced out of hospital; there was this level of strength within their music I hadn’t really heard via a girl group before, and it was exactly what I needed. Plus to top it off, the songs were mind-blowingly good. There was an immediate connection not only to what was being said, but to the way it was produced. There was something this girl band had that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but knew I would no longer be able to live without.
“Every Now & Then” was not just the comeback song of the year, it remains without a doubt the Song of the Year.
A career pinnacle.
I’ve said a lot on this blog in the past about this phenomenal song; I’ve said that it’s a clever throwback to the German Hard Trance sound that was populating the world’s nightclubs throughout the early 2000′s. I’ve also said the song borrows – once again, cleverly – from Neils Van Gough’s early 00′s trance-monster “Pulverturm”, which was – until now – uncharted territory by a pop star.
But this remix, William Orbit’s official ‘Kee Club Mix’, is by far-and-away the definitive version of this absolute sledge-hammer of a pop song, and takes the original to even darker, more disturbing and psychotic musical landscapes than it already housed.
And to those of you thinking the song is solely about her departure from Guy; have a closer listen to the lyrics. He’s not the only one being sung about in this song and that’s exactly why it’s called “Gang Bang.” Duh.
The genius that is Willam Belli has served strongly through this year-end chart, but none as strong as her collaboration with fellow queens Vicky Vox (pictured) and Detox, a jab at Chick-fil-A, an American Chicken Fast-Food outlet with a strong, unfavourable stance when it comes to the Gay & Lesbian community.
Queue this sharply-written parody to the tune of Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” and you’ve got yourself one of the absolute greatest songs of 2012. Nothing was as topical, funny, smart or catchy as this wonderful trio’s venture into fast-food-pop. Keep an ear out for Detox’s stunning rap, a rap whose melody was lifted right out of TLC’s “Waterfalls”, and while you’re at it, go have a watch of the Triangle’s latest single “Boy is a Bottom”, a parody of Alicia Keys’ “Girl is on Fire.”
The comeback single of the year, Girls Aloud’s dominating “Something New” did away with every other pop group in 2012 with this cheeky and topical moment of scattered technopop brilliance. Single-handedly taking on the influx of Boys in Pop since The Mighty Aloud’s three year hiatus, Girls Aloud’s comeback single serves, as my friend Richard would put it, their very own answer to “Spice Up Your Life.”
“Go girls, g-g-go go go, we girls gonna take control! You boys better know know-know-know, we girls gonna run this show.”
You better watch your back, they the leaders of the pack.
The first winner of Eurovision in a number of years to breathe some life and excitement back into the competition, This song was a true revelation and the first deserving winner for a long time. After years of hopeless entry after hopeless entry, Sweden and Loreen brought the Eurovision Song Contest back into magnificent pop-loving territory with this triumphant slab of electropop-ecstasy.
Sneaky Sound System’s album “From Here To Anywhere” was my Album of the Year in 2011, and this 2012-released single lifted from it remained one of my most rotationally-hammered pop songs of the year.
“I don’t want to talk about you, but I really wanna see you again.”
There’s something so great about Sneaky’s lyrics, particularly this one which captures the love/hate relationship one has with another person to complete perfection. Speaking of perfection, this gorgeously crafted Extended Version of the single is one of the most celebrated songs on my iPod.
Miss Connie and Black Angus, I fucking salute you.
The go-to moment of UK choralist Florrie’s entire career, “To The End” is a dramatic foray into dark electropop complete with quick lyrics and a chorus solely created to blow you right out of the water.
This shares some slight production elements with both Girls Aloud’s “Every Now & Then” and “Something New”, and offers just as much layered-drama through the iconic, shoe-horning closer as you would expect. “To The End” is an absolute trailblazing UK pop moment and is exactly the kind of Legend I want Florrie to produce in the foreseeable future.